If you are a film buff, or a film buff wannabe, you might enjoy the latest releases from Criterion. The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films, is dedicated to gathering the greatest films from around the world and publishing them in editions that offer the highest technical quality and award-winning, original supplements. Each film is presented uncut, in its original aspect ratio, as its maker intended it to be seen.
The library purchases DVDs of all titles in the Criterion Collection. Films being released this month include Terrence Malick’s Badlands and Fritz Lang’s Ministry of Fear.
Short Term 12 features something extraordinary in modern filmmaking; exceptionally believable characters who mirror our own frailties and limitations. There was never a moment in the film that was insincere or unconvincing.
This is the story of Grace and Mason, two caretakers at a short term foster care facility for at-risk teenagers. Brie Larson, as Grace, is tough and tender and runs the facility with a firm but loving hand. John Gallagher Jr., as Mason, is her sounding board and safe place. These two have barely passed their teenage years, and the weight of their difficult journeys raises their empathy while building their defenses. We come to recognize Grace as a survivor, and we are aware how acutely she feels the teenager’s pain.
This terrific movie alternates between light-hearted joy and painful darkness. The characters vacillate between strength and despair. Above all, there is courage and dignity in these truly authentic young people who fight for survival and a chance to reverse their predestined fate.
One of my favorite directors for a long time now has been Steven Soderbergh. Everyone knows that Hollywood is tough, but director Steven Soderbergh is just one of those filmmakers who manages to find tons of success at the box office while also impressing the toughest film critics.
The other night I watched one of his more recent efforts called Haywire (2011), starring Gina Carano of MMA fame. From the looks of the trailers, I expected some mindless, yet entertaining, fast-paced action film, but I should have remembered that Soderbergh almost always marches to the beat of his own drummer and rarely delivers what you would expect from a big budget movie.
The movie was fine (definitely not his best in my opinion) but I honestly had a hard time focusing on it because I kept thinking back on an earlier movie of his called The Limey (1999), starringTerrence Stamp and written by Lem Dobbs, who also wrote the screenplay to Haywire. Both movies, but more so with The Limey, take on this pace that just makes you feel uneasy if you're accustomed to the standard Hollywood blockbuster. Some might call it slow, or even boring, but I would disagree. I appreciate how Soderbegh takes his time developing the characters and revealing the world in which they go about their business.
If you've already seen Haywire or plan to see it soon, I would recommend that you also take a look at The Limey and look for similarities between the two. Let me know what you think.
And, if you have a favorite film by Soderbergh, leave a comment and tell the rest of us why.
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